Argentineans cannot make a Bloody Mary for shit. But, as yet, that’s really the only early kink I have detected in the armor. Lounging in the late afternoon at a pricey Americanized outdoor café and bar in Puerto Madero, just between the spicket-mouthed end of Avenida Corrientes pouring traffic into the riverside mediumway, and the provincial beauty of the Casa Rosada and the accompanying row of old-world hotels that delineate San Telmo from the southern neighborhoods, with the lady, whom we shall lovingly call Arual the Succubus (a modern variant of Hekate the Destroyer in the underworld, Lilith the Devil-Whore for the Sumerian/Babylonian crowd or Gozer the Destructor of Ghostbuster fame), to protect identities, as she is burrow-clawing rapaciously into her Time Out Buenos Aires, I feel a deep sense of regret for putting the good people of BA (as it will be hereinafter known) in this awkward position. They already knew they couldn’t pull off a decent Bloody, but the dicky American in me had to make them try. The waitress’ response to my order should have told me all I needed to know, her dramatically slouched left shoulder and sad glossy eyes reflected my obtuseness. It’s like I asked a blind armless midget to hand me the ginsu knife from the highest shelf of the kitchen (…..as if he hasn’t had a hard enough time with things). Not cool. In any case, I now know what my go-to BA “drink” will not be. Arual is drinking Frenet y Cola, we will see how long that experiment lasts.
There are plenty of locals (or at least people who seemingly speak Spanish) at the café, despite the higher prices, tourist fare and unrepentant American classic rock music – lots of misplaced Hendrix, same-song Tom Petty and a sprinkling of Jackson Browne that just makes me sad for him, me and them. Fortunately, the outdoor deck in perfect sun and the generous riverside views have apparently won the day. This is but the first of what should be many, many cafes in the next couple of months, and I think we started rather nicely.
We arrived in BA yesterday morning, still somewhat groggy and dislocated from the long flight from San Francisco, by way of Dallas/Ft. Worth (two cities so equally and consubstantially devoid of culture or redeemable quality they decided to join municipal forces for the purposes of aviation and visitor-attraction brochureism). I don’t sleep well, or at all, on planes. Never have. Despite my usual diet of two miniaturized bottles of extremely cheap wine, it’s apparently not in my constitution to sleep sitting virtually straight up around a plane full of creepy and less somnolently sensitive strangers. I also don’t try terribly hard, but then I never have to (try terribly hard that is) in any other situation I can recall, which is well enough to remove lack of effort from the list of suspects. In any case, I don’t sleep well, or at all, on planes. Whether that is for good or ill with respect to my mental state post-international flight is probably up for debate. Inadequate shallow sleep comes with its own baggage. Plus, this just means more time to read my many books in tow and catch a couple of otherwise unwatchable movies perpetuating the talent-illusion of Jim Carey.
Arual the Succubus sleeps like a baby on planes, and more literally than is typically meant by that saying, as she drools at a fantastic clip – from an agape mouth seemingly pulled by preternatural forces towards the roof of the plane or the heavens, or both really. “WTF is she looking for up there….? God?” I, and several now-befriended former plane strangers, laughingly ask among jocular high-fives. Then again, she also snores and chortles a slight bit, so perhaps she sleeps more like an elderly baby, or at least one with a very difficult case of sleep apnea. So, in retrospect, maybe she sleeps like an old obese man on planes, instead of a baby. I don’t really know how babies sleep to be honest. It would be weird if I did.
We immediately went to meet Ignacio, which is apparently a real name for a person, at our apartment (Ignacio runs the long-term vacation rental company with his partner, who I have persistently called “Roberto”, despite his parents’ adorably feeble and, frankly, self-indulgent attempt to give him the Christian name of Martin), where I could unload the ridiculous amount of cash I was forced to carry with me to pay the two months rent and security deposit upon arrival. Of course, it wasn’t the flight I was worried about, as pickpockets are notoriously easy of locate on airliners and having a great deal of cash might actually help if the jet were to go down in the Andes. After the other soccer-player passengers finished gnawing the last vestiges of succulent meat from the big-boned bones of Arual (aw, short-strawed once again), I could pull out my cash and purchase my safety with the shining incandescent power of the U.S. dollar, which before the recent bust, ironically, might have still had the purchasing power to have saved Arual as well. Oh well, we all have to sacrifice in this economy. Little did those silly soccery cannibals, sleepy and confused after gorging themselves on my tryptophanic significant other, know that after we were rescued, I would almost certainly sue them for the return (with interest) of my money under some unreasonable duress/extortion theory. Arual would have wanted me to.
In any case, we made it safely to the apartment on Diagonal Norte, met Ignacio, who thankfully speaks English quite well, and transacted business in raw cash, which has an inherent feel (at least to Americans) of shadiness to it. Watching a moustached man count out tens and tens of hundreds of my dollars usually immediately precedes the receipt of guns, drugs and/or high-priced prostitutes, or all of the above in the ideal context, rather than an extra mailbox key and a laminated list of “very nice” tapas restaurants in the area. Luckily, Ignacio handed me a hand-written rental agreement and receipt drafted entirely in colloquial Spanish to appropriately document my legal rights. He was even kind enough to give me the gist – “eh, don’t worry about this paragraph” – of what it said. Sounds reasonable to me. You won’t even get that buying high-priced hookers.
After kicking Ignacio out (yeah, check the contract people), I duly went to sleep for the next 8 hours (see, I don’t sleep well on planes), before waking up and heading to to this cafe where I now find myself.
(to be continued……….)